A St. Landry Parish Police Department and local church are working together to keep jail inmates out of trouble once they’re released. Officials said they’ve seen a huge success rate with the program.
The recovery program starts while the trustees are still behind bars. They are allowed to visit First Baptist Church about a mile from the prison.
Once there, prisoners are able to speak freely in group meetings.
“These are not murderers or rapists or hard criminals. These are petty things and they need a second chance in life. You can’t just fix somebody by locking them up in a jail cell. You got to fix them from the inside out,” said Deon Boudreaux, Port Barre Police Chief.
He said it was Pastor Benji Richard’s idea. Pastor Richard started his ministry inside of prisons and juvenile homes.
Richard’s program is to reach out to the broken — not just within prison, but the entire community.
“We saw a dire need of so many people that are hurting, that need help. Celebrate recovery is for any hang up, hurt or habit that anyone may have,” said Pastor Richard.
Travis Codori is one of the people Pastor Richard is referring to.
Codori is now a trustee at the police department after being charged with distribution of marijuana. The 23-year-old said this program has made a huge difference in his life.
“To come into a place where you’re not sure of and to feel welcomed and feel comfortable, it helps a lot. Being able to express yourself definitely helps as well because you know it’s a safe place.
The main thing is sometimes you just have things on your heart,” said Codori. Boudreaux said he’s witnessed change in men after prison.
“A guy that just got out of our jail, I’ve been seeing him in church and every time I see him, he says Chief thank you for everything you’ve done for us, my life is different now,” said Boudreaux.
Chief Boudreaux said he hopes to see this program continue for years to come.